Family grateful for "ultimate gift" from Elmhurst Hospital team

February 23, 2021 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

In her own words: the below story is told by Joanna Curry, 38, of Bensenville. Curry shares what happened when her 68-year-old mother, Joan Golembiewski, of Schiller Park, was taken to the Elmhurst Hospital ER on New Year’s Day.

Going to the emergency room on New Year’s Day is not typically how anyone wants to start off the new year, especially after a year like 2020, but sometimes that’s where we find ourselves. And luckily for my family, our mom was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where specialized, personalized care is at the top of their priority list.

What we thought would be a quick ER visit for my mom during the holidays turned into a pretty severe 17-day hospital stay, with 13 of those days being in the CCU (Critical Care Unit), and including several touch-and-go moments.

The communication between her team of doctors was outstanding and offered me comfort during an uncertain time. To see her team of doctors gathered outside her room discussing her treatment options, including which medications to use without causing further complications, was the true definition of collaboration.

They weren’t just passing notes in a computer — they were quite literally putting their heads together to figure out next steps for her treatment plan. I wholeheartedly believe that this was crucial in my mom’s recovery.

To be able to witness how the doctors and nurses were working and fighting so hard to “fix” her enabled my mom to push herself toward recovery.

There were pulmonologists, nephrologists, gastroenterologists and cardiologists filling her room multiple times a day when she was at her worst, to draw labs, order tests or give updates. At times it seemed we would need a take-a-number dispenser to keep track of everyone coming in and out of her room!

Amidst the bustle, there was one doctor who stood out for me — my mom's assigned cardiologist, Dr. Andrew Rauh. When it was discovered that her issue was heart-related, Dr. Rauh stepped in, took the lead, and became our hero.

Dr. Rauh involved me in my mom's treatment and allowed me, as her patient advocate, to have a voice. He sat with both of us and explained in detail every test and procedure he ordered and why. He answered all of our questions, but most importantly, he listened.

Dr. Rauh listened to me one morning when I felt something was wrong. He took swift action and stabilized my mom within a matter of moments — something I have no doubt saved her life that day.

Dr. Rauh was my constant. He was a familiar, albeit masked, face that I saw every morning, eyes smiling, always giving me honest information and answers about my mom's progress, and being an overwhelming sense of calm when my mom and I needed that most. While we have a long recovery ahead, it is very comforting to know that Dr. Rauh will be there along the way to help us navigate these new waters.

Although the words "thank you" will never be enough, they are deserved for Elmhurst Hospital and every single person who works there, for demonstrating the highest standard of care for patients.

Thank you to the East Entrance staff who showed great compassion and asked for updates on my mom’s condition each morning when I arrived and each evening when I left. Thank you to the room service staff who recognized me each day and offered words of encouragement in the hallway, in the cafeteria, wherever I saw them.

Thank you to my mom's team of doctors, nurses and PCTs (Patient Care Technicians) for going above and beyond in every way possible for my mom, and for me. Your words of encouragement, your bedside manner, your care was beyond exceptional.

And thank you Dr. Rauh. Thank you for your compassion, for listening to your patients and patient advocates, for not giving up, and for ultimately saving my mother’s life. You have provided my children and our family the ultimate gift — more time with our mom and grandma. For that, I will be forever grateful.

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